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Can You Use Ceramic Tiles Outside?

  • December 21, 2020

With a 6,000-year legacy of use in the design and construction of buildings across the world, ceramic tiles are still among the most popular flooring options available. Ceramic tiles offer you plenty of colours, shapes, and patterns, with excellent resistance against wear-and-tear and UV rays.

So, Can you use ceramic tiles outside?

Can you use ceramic tiles outside? Countries like Mexico and Italy use ceramic tiles in outdoor applications, and they hold up well to environmental demands in most warm climates. However, the use of ceramic tiling in cold temperatures is not a popular choice. If water in the tiles or under the floor freezes, it cracks and shifts the floor as it expands, creating tile damage and uneven floors.

However, over the last several decades, innovations in tiling and tile manufacturing methods resolved many of the climate-related issues involved with using tiles outdoors. In this post, we’ll discuss what you need to know for your outdoor ceramic tiling project.

Amerka Grigio Outdoors 2cm
Amerka Grigio Outdoors 2cm

What are the Best Outdoor Ceramic Floor Tiles?

Most Home Depot stores carry everything you need for a successful tiling project. However, if you want the best selection and advice, it’s better to deal with a niche tiling shop. These dedicated specialists will walk you through everything you need to know about the job.

You might change your mind on a DIY installation after you learn the complexities involved with the job. Whether you decide to go with a professional or DIY job, you need to ensure you choose tiles made from dense materials.

If you choose porous tiles, they’ll absorb water, leading to problems with mould or mildew growth under the tiles. Water seeping through the grouting or into the tile itself might also stain and discolour it. Porous tiles do absorb moisture, they’ll crumble when the water freezes in the wintertime.

Ensure that you purchase “vitreous,” “frost-free,” “freeze-thaw stable,” or “impervious” tiles. Look at the label on the packaging to see if the manufacturer warranties the tiles against freezing.

How Do I Level the Floor for Outdoor Ceramic Tiles?

If you’re installing an outdoor floor, you have two options – Tile directly over the existing floor, or break up the old floor and start a new installation. Whichever way you decide to go, you’re going to need to level the floor.

Tiling over an old installation offers the easiest job, but it might not be possible. The key to a good outdoor tiling job is the current condition of the foundation or existing floor. For your new tiling job to stick, you need a level surface.

If you’re reconditioning a floor, make sure you sand all the high spots and have a perfectly level surface before you start tiling. The same applies to new construction. With new construction, you have the benefit of using a self-levelling compound to create the foundation for your floor. We recommend Weber’s floor flex self levelling compound.

Amerka Cenere Outdoors 2cm
Amerka Cenere Outdoors 2cm

Why Do I Need An Isolation Membrane For An Outdoor Ceramic Tile Floor?

If you fit an outdoor patio, you’re going to need to ensure it has a waterproof surface. When water gets under the tiles, it results in mould growth and stains on your floor. Then, when the water freezes under your tiles, they shift and start to crack.

Imagine spending all that money on a new floor to see it crumble away underneath your feet—what a shame.

Isolation membranes come in rubbery sheets that sandwich between layers of a thin-set adhesive. Most adhesives feature a latex additive that resists water, preventing mould growth.

How Do I Grout an Outdoor Ceramic Tile Floor?

Grouting is essential to ensure the final waterproofing of the joints between your tiles. Most outdoor grouting formulas feature latex formulations, allowing for expansion under the sun’s heat.

If the grouting is not flexible, it results in cracking, allowing water to get under the tiles. A silicone grouting sealant penetrates the fresh grout, increasing its water-resistant properties.

Amerka Beige 2cm
Amerka Beige 2cm

Tips for Installing Ceramic Tiles Outdoors

Here are a few handy tips for installing your outdoor ceramic floor tiles.

  • Use the best materials – The price tag of your tiles is an important consideration. However, make sure you put the same thought into choosing your grouting, caulk, and sealant.
  • Follow the Manufacturer’s Guidelines – Make sure you’re using the products as directed when mixing your grout, adhesive, sealant, and caulking. Make sure you only apply these products to well-drained, stable slabs.
  • Accommodate for Expansion – Prevent cracking of your new floor by spacing expansion joints at least 16-feet apart.
  • Ensure You Have a Waterproof Surface – Remember your membrane, and ensure that you invest in high-quality waterproof materials for your job.
  • Inspect and Maintain Your Outdoor Ceramic Tile Floor Seasonally – After each season, inspect your ceramic tiled floor for damage to the grouting and expansion joints. As the seasons change, it plays a significant role in how your floor reacts to the temperature shifts. By ensuring you complete a seasonal inspection of the floor, you get ahead of temperature shifts and cracking before it starts.

Can You Use Ceramic Tiles Outside? – The Verdict

Yes, it’s entirely possible to use ceramic flooring outdoors. However, you must use the right tiles and complete a proper, waterproof tiling job. If you’re second-guessing your DIY skills, speak to a professional for assistance.

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